Rock Varnish:

Wanted Dead or Alive?


Rock varnish gets very little respect. Many people don't even know that it's alive! Some people think it's ugly and covers up the pretty rocks. In ancient times, they even scratched pictures in it.

You are a writer for Nature is Cool magazine. No one has ever written an article about rock varnish before. Most of the other writers don't care about rock varnish. They don't think rock varnish is cool.



The Mission

Convince people that rock varnish is an interesting part of nature.

The Process

Activity 1:

Find a reading buddy. Talk about what you already know about rock varnish. Then, read about it. Make a list of the reasons that rock varnish is interesting.

Choose an option that fits your information need:

Activity 2:

People get excited about the beauty in nature, but usually forget about rock varnish. Choose one of the following written forms for your magazine article. Be sure to include factual information about rock varnish.

  • Write a poem about the rough life of rock varnish.
  • Write the "rock varnish rap".
  • Write about a walk in a canyon observing rock varnish.
  • Write about the bacteria living in the varnish.
  • Write a "letter to the editor" about giving rock varnish a nature award.
  • Write a creative story about the relationship between rocks and varnish.

The Conclusion

You've done all this writing, but the magazine isn't sure if they want to publish your work. Write a paragraph justifying why you think your writing is important for others to read.


Note: All photographs taken with a digital camera in Arizona and Utah.
Developed by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 04/02.